Yes, we did end up playing silly games around the dinner table, but we’d earned the right to be daft. Actually, when I look back on our demanding schedule, I think we were probably all a bit ‘la la’ from the outset…
We gathered in the bar on the Friday evening to discuss the itinerary. I’d sneakily slipped a ride up Snowdon into the schedule – first thing on Saturday morning, clearly marking it ‘optional’. I thought that a couple of the experienced riders would be interested and they were, but so was almost everybody else! The challenge proved popular and the 6:00am wake-up call seemed to be of little consequence.
So, up we all got, including Dave Perkins, who seemed relatively undecided the night before. The route was straight up and back, so my instructions were for everyone to ride at their own speed and re-group at the top. The weather deteriorated the higher we climbed and as we ascended through the cloud layer, the wind began to bite and it all became a bit too much, so we had to turn back. We were only about 10 minutes from the summit too. It was a shame, but these are the challenges you face when you try to surmount the highest mountain in England and Wales. The descent was technical, but rapid, so it didn’t take long to get back down.
After we’d helped ourselves to some homemade flapjacks served from the boot of my car, we returned to the hotel for a cup of tea before clambering over our bikes again for a steady ride around Betws-y-coed ‘Mountain Bike Trail’. Although we set off at 10:30am, it felt like the middle of the afternoon (who’s idea was it to get up so early anyway?). It was quite a climb from Betws, up the wide and winding conifer bordered fire tracks and then we held our altitude for quite a while before dropping back down to the town again. Boy was that worth waiting for? Snaking fire track and switchbacks – nothing too tight or narrow, but a few off camber bits to watch out for. Leg out ‘downhill’ style was the order of the day.
‘Ploughman’s Lunch’ was on the menu when we got back, followed by a choice of fruit and then we moved to the lounge for the first of my seminars. I presented the topics of training theory, energy systems and training levels and a discussion ensued. I ordered coffee when it became clear that one of my recruits, a Mr Steven Oglesby, was suffering fatigue from the early start. Every time his head dropped to catch flies, Theresa, who was sat opposite, pointed and chuckled. My caffeinated beverage order saved him from certain ridicule… and me from getting a reputation as a boring speaker.
Sounds like a long day doesn’t it? It certainly is when you tag an interval training session on at the end. Intervals are best performed when the legs are fresh and well rested, so this session really served as an example of ‘when not to do it’! The whole point of this little drill was to give everyone an idea of how an interval session should be structured and feel and it certainly served that purpose. Tired legs make for screwed-up faces and disgruntled stares though, so I admit I was weak and didn’t push them too hard. There’s only so much disapproval a coach can take before he worries for his life. I think they got the idea, so ‘job done’.
We showered, buffed ourselves up and then shared in three delightful courses at dinner, washed down with a drop or three of wine. Silly games? Yes we summoned the energy for one little game before bedtime and I’ve since decided to codename it ‘TORQture’. We played it at my last Mountain Biking weekend away and I can guarantee we’ll play it again – yes it’s the one where the person next to you sticks the name of a famous person on your forehead and you’ve got to guess who you are! With names like President Clinton, George W Bush, The Queen, Mother Theresa and Sadam Hussein sitting around the table, we could’ve had a pretty good go at sorting out the current world crisis, but we giggled inanely instead. I think Homer Simpson was the sobering influence.
On Sunday morning I gave them and myself a lie in, so we didn’t start pedalling until about 10:00am. Today’s ride was a steady endurance session incorporating the Llanberis Pass, which runs alongside Snowdon, the mountain we almost conquered the day before. The wind was unkind on the way out, really forcing the pace down, but as we turned to go up the pass, we took full advantage of the backdraft that funnelled around us. Warwick got his 3rd puncture of the weekend as he descended into Betws-y-coed – We were sure it was a conspiracy…